Purchasing STAM: Part 7

Bidi’eved, Lechatchila, & Mehudar

This series of blog posts can be downloaded as a free ebook.1

For a brief overview of the complete series, including links to all the posts, see Purchasing STAM: Index & Summary.

The previous post mentioned that there are different levels when it comes to the kashrus of STAM. The terms “bidi’eved”, “lechatchila” and “mehudar” are regularly used in many areas of religious Jewish life, but the criteria for the different levels are often ambiguous. Additionally, many people do not have a clear understanding of the circumstances that would make one choice acceptable or preferable over others.

note: The terms are defined here as they relate to STAM. Extrapolation to other areas of halacha should be done in consultation with a competent halachic authority.

  • Literally, bidi’eved means “after the fact”. When something is “kosher bidi’eved”, it usually means that a significant minority opinion says it’s kosher, even if the majority opinion holds that it is not kosher. Due to the lenient ruling of the minority, we might be able to accept the status as kosher — in circumstances that are themselves less than ideal. This last point is critical and bears repeating: Bidi’eved does not mean “good enough”; a more realistic definition would be something like, “If this is really the best we can hope for, then it will have to suffice.”

  • Along the same lines, lechatchila means “the ideal scenario”. If something is said to be “kosher lechatchila”, it generally means that there is a consensus among the majority of poskim that it is kosher. Lechatchila should be the baseline level of kashrus under normal conditions.

  • Mehudar means “beautiful” or “enhanced”. For something to be enhanced halachically, the item in question would of course need to meet the requirements of the majority of poskim, and additionally fulfill more stringent opinions.

    Another aspect of “hidur” is an aesthetic consideration: Based on the verse, “This is my G‑d and I will glorify him”, the Gemara learns that there is an obligation to have STAM that is visually pleasing — that the materials and the handwriting should look beautiful. Increased beauty of STAM is a halachic value, and all else being equal, one should purchase STAM that looks nicer.

These explanations are very broad but should be adequate for most STAM purchases. The next post in this series will offer some guidance in correctly grading the various items in the marketplace.

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  1. The blog posts have been revised to reflect edits and corrections made when preparing the ebook edition.